Ultrasound matches biopsy at diagnosing temporal arteritis

November 5, 2007
Wendy Despain
Wendy Despain

Doppler ultrasound is accurate enough to equal the standard diagnostic test for temporal arteritis, which requires a biopsy of the temporal artery. This is a condition in which early diagnosis and treatment is crucial: 50% of patients with temporal arteritis lose their sight if untreated.

Doppler ultrasound is accurate enough to equal the standard diagnostic test for temporal arteritis, which requires a biopsy of the temporal artery. This is a condition in which early diagnosis and treatment is crucial: 50% of patients with temporal arteritis lose their sight if untreated.

Dr. José M. Zaragozá García and colleagues in the department of vascular and endovascular surgery at the Dr. Peset University Hospital in Valencia, Spain, published their study in the Oct. 6 issue of Medicina Clinica. They studied 23 patients with clinical signs of temporal arteritis. All the patients received color Doppler ultrasound exams on both of their temporal arteries and the exams were evaluated for hypoechoic halo and inflammatory stenoses.

Later biopsies allowed the researchers to determine how accurate the color Doppler ultrasound exams were. The biopsy results showed that 72% of the cases were negative for temporal arteritis.

For cases in which the presence of a halo in the color Doppler ultrasound was regarded as determinant for disease, sensitivity was 80%, specificity 92%, positive predictive value 80%, negative predictive value 92%, and global test value 88%.

When the researchers considered those cases with the halo sign independent of the presence of inflammatory stenosis, sensitivity was 100%, specificity 77%, positive predictive value 62.5%, negative predictive value 100%, and global test value 83%.

They concluded that due to the high sensitivity and negative predictive value of color Doppler ultrasound exams, this noninvasive test could be used as an accurate screening test for temporal arteritis.